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Posts from the ‘horror’ Category


#Classic The Lottery



  1. Even thought I knew how the story ended
  2. …I felt a dread.
  3. This horror of the ending  and the even cheery,
  4. …atmosphere of the scene
  5. …small town USA just rattled this reader.
  6. Narrative  style: deadpan, 3rd person
  7. Strong point: unexpected shock of the ending
  8. Tone: calm
  9. Point of the story:  expose how people seize upon a scapegoat
  10. …release the cruelties that people seem to have dammed up within themselves.
  11. Trivia: story is taught in high school for decades
  12. …often referred to as the best-known short story of the 20th century.
  13. #Classic

#AUSReadingMonth Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2018



  1. Once again I am leaving my comfort zone.
  2. Will this book leave me white-kunckled
  3. ….cringing in fear with
  4. …heightened pulse, sweaty palms and a
  5. sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
  6. I am about to find out!



  1. Imagine the worst criminals in history, not executed for their crimes
  2. but condemned to preservation and imprisonment.
  3. A life sentence, and then some.
  4. Execution or eternal life? Which is worse? Which is better?
  5. Phillipa is a nurses aide in a home
  6. for the elderly (all….dementia patients).
  7. She is leaving for a 1 year internship in The Time Ball Tower.
  8. Phillippa: ” The tower never left me.
  9. I’d dream about it, hallucinate it when I was away.
  10. It calls to the best of us, they say.”


  1. Cover: The Time Ball Tower
  2. Symbolism: Ball dropping every day, keeping time
  3. Setting: small town in Australia, Tempuston (tempus; Latin for time)
  4. Motif: camera.…Phillipa is constantly taking photographs!



Strong point:

  1. Chapter 1:   Phillipa Muskett
  2. This must be the longest first chapter
  3. …I ever read! (reading time: 2 hours!)
  4. But Kaaron Warren is setting the scene


  1. ...leaving a path ‘hooks, moments of tension’
  2. …that overwhelmed this reader.
  3. …I noted  at least 24 moments of reflection by Phillipa
  4. giving the reader a good impression about
  5. her wants (be famous), fears and hopes for the future.


  1. Many characters stop to give her advice before she
  2. leaves for a year in The Time Ball Tower
  3. Burnett (suffers from dementia, was keeper in 1868!)
  4. ….is still patient in elderly home! (time travel?, ghost?)
  5. BFF Renata (grandmother is a witch!)
  6. Phillipa’s Grandmother (Frances Styles, keeper 1938)
  7. Photography teacher
  8. and especially Kate Hoff (keeper 2010)
  9. She gives Philippa the most important advice:.
  10. how to act with the prisoners
  11. because they can
  12. “Smell of a woman…makes them difficult.”
  13. Kate also give Phillipa all the report files
  14. …written by keepers who have served
  15. in The Tower in the past!
  16. I am sitting on the edge of my seat because
  17. …Philippa is about to read them all!
  18. I expect  a lot of ‘shock and awe” in this book!


Weak point:

  1. After an exciting first chapter (18 % of the book)
  2. we read the ‘secret files’ from the Tower keepers.
  3. Quirky, repetitive…but not scary at all! (44 % of the book).
  4. Warren often refers to a personage from history
  5. Hess, Jacob H. Smith, Baron von Sternberg
  6. …and you have to consult Wikipedia to learn more about
  7. some unfamiliar names.
  8. Every file ends in a report that is identical for all keepers
  9. with an exception for Frances Styles, an a few mention that
  10. the prisoner does not need a bath.
  11. This just felt gimmicky.
  12. It does not add to the  horror element of the book.


Strong or weak point?

  1. Palpable sexually oriented glaze over many elements
  2. of the story when Phillippa
  3. …is finally the keeper in The Tower. (62 % of the book)
  4. Does this increase the ‘horror element”
  5. …or is it good for book sales?
  6. You decide.
  7. Personally…I wish Warren was
  8. a more creative  writer
  9. …rather than use the pornographic angle.


Weak point:

  1. There isn’t very much tension in the last section
  2. Phillipa as keeper.
  3. Prisoners babble on and on…nothing we haven’t
  4. heard before in the book.
  5. I try to keep engaged by noting how Phillipa
  6. is changing from the first day as keep….until her last.
  7. That is the only real interesting part at this point
  8. Where’s the horror? 
  9. I’m not seeing it!
  10. I expected much more from a
  11. an Aurealis Awards prize 
  12. …Best Horror book of 2018!


Weak point:

  1. Well, I did not find the shock and awe
  2. …I expected in this book
  3. Warren gives the reader and ‘information dump’ in chapter 1
  4. ….and now you have to try to connect that information with
  5. the individual keepers who have written reports.
  6. This involved flipping back and forth to chapter one.
  7. This is one way to structure a book
  8. …but I found it ruined the flow of the narrative.
  9. It became irritating.


Last Thoughts;

  1. Honestly, I enjoyed Warren’s book (2017)
  2. The Grief Hole  much more than this book!
  3. 44% of the book was ‘filling” – keeper’s files.
  4. Plot twists with a bit of tension started
  5. on page 346…..91% of the book!
  6. I was expecting lightning in a bottle
  7. …and only I got static electricity on the rug!
  8. #Disappointment


Kaaron Warren


#RIPXIV: E.A. Poe Imp of the Perverse

Author:  Edgar Allan Poe
Genre: short story in the horror genre
Title:  The Imp of  the Perverse
Published:  July 1845  in Graham’s Magazine
Length of story:  4 pages [16 paragraphs]
Published by  Penguin Books
Setting: 1830-1840’s in prison cell, narrator tells his story…how he got on death row
Theme:  an impulse forcing people to act irrationally




• The Imp of  the Perverse is a  short story that begins as an essay.
• It discusses the  narrator’s self-destructive impulses, embodied as  The Imp of  the Perverse.
• Poe wrote it to justify his own actions of self-torment and self-destruction.
• Many of Poe’s characters display a failure to resist The Imp of  the Perverse.
• Murder in The Black Cat
• Narrator in Tell Tale Heart
• The opposite  is displayed in the character  C. Auguste Dupin.
• He exhibits reason and deep analysis.


• Part 1 Is written in essay style mentioning subjects
• in philosophical terms (primum mobile, à posteriori) ), logic (phrenology) and mysticism (Kabbala)
• Poe cleverly reveals the ‘narrator’s own ‘imp’ by being so wordy!
• The narrator admits he has always wanted to anger the listener (reader) with confusing language.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing….”
• “I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” (pg 281)
• Part 2 contains the narrators story….
• He inherits an estate after murdering its owner.
• He ends up on death row after a perverse impulse causes him to confess the murder.


• The Narrator: An apparently demented man who appears intelligent and well educated.
• The Listener:  Unnamed person listening to the narrator’s story.
• Madame Pilau: Woman who died after inhaling the smoke from an accidentally poisoned candle.
• The Murder Victim: Unnamed person whose property passed to the narrator.
• Pedestrians:  People who witness the narrator’s confession.


Style:  first person point-of-view with an unreliable narrator
• Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have
• misunderstood me altogether or […] fancied me mad. (pg 283)


Symbols:   Imp
• This is a spirit that tempts a person to do things….they would normally not do.
• Poe explains that the  ‘imp’  is an impulse in each person’s mind.


• Alliteration:  laconic and luminous language (pg 281)
• Climax: Poe uses a climax words that are arranged  to increase their importance.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing ( to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker and in defiance of all consequences) in indulged.” (pg 282)


Voice of Poe:
• Poe states we use the word ‘perverse’ without really knowing what is means.
• Perverse = headstrong, obstinate, contradictory
• Poe is a master when it comes to entering human thoughts.
• He describes how we ‘put off until tomorrow that we could do today’ because we are perverse.
• With each passing day the anxiety grows.
• I do exactly what Poe describes…
• when I have to make an appointment for the dentist!
• “The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare.” (pg 282)


Voice of Poe:
• In  paragraph 6  we read one of the famous lines:
• “ We stand upon the brink of a precipice.”
• Poe describes the uncontrollable urge to jump.
• I could only think of the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner.
• In 2012 he stood who on the ‘precipice’ of space before making his famous skydive from the stratosphere!
• Goosebumps!


• This is one of Poe’s  lesser known works.
• I expected great writing and got loopy sentences going on and on about nothing!
• After further reading I realized this was Poe’s intention….to irritate the reader!
• The story just kept getting better and better.
Weak point:  the first 4 paragraphs are difficult to get through.
• This almost deterred and discouraged me…but I did not stop!
Strong point: the story in itself is ‘perverse’ .
• Poe deliberately  uses confusing writing and structure to irritate the reader.
• A writer usually wants to please the reader!
• Poe preforms this “perverse” act that defies logic and reason.


Last thoughts:
• I thought I would just breeze through 4 pages of The Imp of the Perverse.
• How wrong I was.
• I have read each and every word in this story…twice!!
• That is an accomplishment in itself.
• Below is a summation of each paragraph.
• Read it ….or read the story first ……your choice.
• I was surprised by the style, structure and  plot.
• Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe are works of art….
• …and deserve a high score.


Sign-Up #RIPXIV Challenge

You can SIGN UP  RIP XIV here.


  1. Rules: Read or watch dark, creepy, gothic books, films or TV  shows.
  2. Timeline: 01 September and 31 October.
  3. Hashtag: #RIPXIV
  4. Scope: The the challenge is set up very broadly, to include all of these genres:
Dark Fanta


There are multiple levels of participation (Perils):

  • Peril the First – Read 4 books, any length, that fit the definition of R.I.P. literature.
  • Peril the Second – Read 2 books of any length.
  • Peril the Third – This Peril involves reading 1 book.
  • Peril of the Short Story – You can read short stories.
  • Peril on the Screen – You can watch scary, eerie, mysterious, gothic
  • movies or TV shows
  • Peril of the Review – Submit a short review of any book you read. (optional)
  • You may participate in one or all of the various Perils.


My list:

  1. The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe Scott Peeples  – (non fiction)
  2. Imp of the Perverse (short story) – E.A. Poe
  3. Tide of Stone – K. Warren  winner Aurealis Award 2018 BEST horro novel
  4. ??




#RIPXIII Classic: Frankenstein


Author: Mary Shelley
Title: Frankenstein
Published: 1818



Shelley uses the classic ‘ 3 act’ structure.
introduction characters and location — conflict — resolution of problem.
Weak point: the re-birth of the ‘fiend’ and
…his discovery of nature, his senses and language.
33 sentences recording the creature’s every movement and or thought. (part 2, pg107).
I just lost interest.
The constant use of “the first person” narrative was numbing.
Deja-vu: death scene page 180 is exactly the same as
…episode #1.1 UK detective series “Broadchurch”.


Audio book:

I read the book while listening to the audio version.
I wanted the full experience.
Narrator: Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is excellent as Victor Frankenstein.
Unfortunately the voice of ‘the creature, the fiend’ sounded
….like he was constantly on the verge of tears.
…not threatening enough.


Gothic: Frankenstein is an example of this genre.

The Gothic tradition rejected reason, clarity and rational thinking.
It focused heavily on imagination, emotion and extreme passion.
Themes: death (10 people die in the book!), decay, terror, confinement, entrapment.
Main character: (Victor) feels trapped in his own guilt….while shouting for relief and help.
Antagonist (grotesque creature) is confused and isolated.


Literary device: epistolary technique

Letters reveal back round and gives Shelley means to logically end the story.
Letters are a portrait of the soul, confession, mask.
Letters connotate privacy and intimacy.
Letters are used as a ‘frame story‘ (mise-en-abyme) – story within a story.



Shelley is not as skillful in this area. The book is filled with generic descriptions (snow capped mountains, dashing waterfalls,) and she fails to use color to paint a picture of the sun (mentioned 45x), moon (21x) and stars (12x). Shelley’s favorite colors promote the gothic mood of darkness (black 17x) and light (white 11x)



I could only find one symbol.
Ice (mentioned 41x) – represents Victor’s fate.
The creature leaves him a message:
“Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north,
…where you will feel the misery of cold and frost…”



I was not impressed with this novel.
It does have its lyrical moments…..but lacked gravitas.
Weak point: too much dull, stolid repetition of same words
…instead of lively, fleet narration.
repetitive: fiend (33x), guilt/guilty/guilt-ridden (27x), abhor (17x) and I/he/she/it found (89x)
Weak point:
Shelley describes nature, moon, stars, sun (sun,sunshine,sunset 60x)
…mist, storms, Mont Blanc, glaciers, sea, waves
…lakes, rocks, wind, Alps, Valley Chamounix… etc ad nausem.
Pages and pages with descriptions of wanderings
… of Victor and the creature.
It feels like ‘book-stuffing.
It just gets to be a bit too much. (Pages 94 – 103 are examples)
Strong point: This book is an amazing achievement
…for a young 19 year old woman, non-writer, failed poet in 19th C literary scene.
If you want a great gothic….read Dracula and leave this one on the shelf.


R.I.P. Readers Imbibing Peril



The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge, otherwise known as R.I.P. takes place every September 1st through October 31st.

The purpose of the R.I.P. challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, or Supernatural.

There are multiple levels of participation (Perils):

  • Peril the First – Read four books, any length, that fit the definition of R.I.P. literature.
  • Peril the Second – Read two books of any length.
  • Peril the Third – This Peril involves reading one book.
  • Peril of the Short Story – You can read short stories any time during the challenge.
  • Peril on the Screen – This is for those of us who like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious, gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large.
  • Peril of the Review – Submit a short review of any book you read.


This year I will do

  1. Peril the First
  2. Peril of the Short Story
  3. Peril of the Review if I find some time.
  4. All my selections are from my TBR that I am trying desperately to reduce.
  5. These are all potential reads….it all depends on my ‘spooky’ mood.
  6. Hashtag:  #RIPXIII


My list:

  1. HawthorneHenry James  – READ (essay)
  2. Frankenstein – M. Shelley – READ (Gothic novel)
  3. Dark EntriesR. AickmanREAD (short stories)
  4. The Raven – E. A. Poe –  READ (poem)
  5. Aletheia – J.S. Breukelaar – READ (horror)



Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2017 short list


  1. Well, I’m still looking for horror!
  2. I read the winner of the
  3. Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2017
  4. Soon and was mildly impressed.
  5. Now I have decided to look further….on the short list.
  6. I found Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar
  7. The name has potential….but is it horrific?
  8. I have never heard of the author but according to
  9. …some comment I saw this book is
  10. a demanding story that will grip the reader and
  11. …hold them relentlessly until the end.
  12. Does the book drip strangeness?
  13. I will put the book to the test!


Feedback:  response to comment by Tracy at  Bitter Tea and Mystery

Tracy, I was just like you…Horror, avoid at all costs.
Now I have found that horror is not only slasher narratives with blood dripping from chainsaws!
It is creating with language and imagery an unsettling tense feeling as to what is yet to come.
There are different sorts of horror gothic –Dracula-  and Supernatural –Aletheia- non-supernatural. This category includes frightening crime or mystery stories. I read Lemaitre’s –Alex- ..and was frightened to death by rats attacking a victim! Tracy, perhaps you are reading horror and didn’t realize it!



  1. Aletheia is the Greek goddess of truth… Roman name Veritas.
  2. In this book Aletheia refers not so much to the truth.
  3. …but how you find it.”


Genre:  supernatural horror

  1. Breukelaar uses phrases that create a creepy unsettling air.
  2. Strong point being the imagery and personification of the lake.
  3. The one of the best ‘horror’ chapters was  ch 16 Dark Wind.
  4. Lee faces the supernatural unknown he feels on the lake.
  5. What do you want?  And the lake doesn’t answer,
  6. …but somethig else does.”


Theme:  fear

  1. Find the blind spot…what they refuse to see is what they are afraid of.
  2. What do the men refuse to see? (Lee – Doc – Frankie)
  3. What must the women do?
  4. Thettie  must find room to ‘move in their blind spot’
  5. Bryce: blinded in one eye…yet she saw everyone’s fears.


  1. Motif – tongue  (reptilian, poisonous, death)
  2. Vernon’s tongue-tip flicked out (ch1)
  3. – a black tongue of lake water (ch 5)
  4. – …licked the glass of the dream-window
  5. – the black dream tongue fading…(ch 9)
  6. – a tongue dragged itself along the steamy
  7. – inside of the window… (10)
  8. black tongues of lake….lap hungrily at the side of the canoe (ch 16)
  9. This is a great horror effect!


  1. Motif  – triangle  (fate)
  2. I found one quote that perhaps is the idea behind the form:
  3. “…a triangulation that finally began to make sense.
  4. Geometry is fate.” (ch 13)
  5. Place names:
  6. Triangle Gully, Triangle Bridge, Triangle Creek Triangle Falls
  7. business triangles: Homer with a rifle – a dirt-colored shack – pails for the dogs
  8. love triangles – Archy – Bryce – Grif
  9. guilt triangles – Frankie – Thettie – Doc
  10. child/mother triangles –  Archy – Thettie – Grif
  11. This brings tension….someone will be left out
  12. but who?


  1. Motif – eye    (evil eye?)
  2. Many references to eye – fish hook
  3. Bryce catches ‘baby’ – doll on fishing line —-fish hook in eye.
  4. Lee’s son draws a howling mutation (in lake?) and his
  5. mother crayon in a burning star in its dead eye.
  6. Bryce: one-eye water rat
  7. Lee began to move off, but the
  8. …amber slice in her (Bryce) eye held him in place.
  9. Bryce: wore an eye patch that “seemed to eat up the all the light”
  10. There are many more references
  11. …..try to find them!


HOOK:   What hooked me?

  1. I cannot pinpoint one specific moment in the first
  2. few chapters that I can say ‘hooked’ me.
  3. Of course the ‘shock and awe’ of the first sentence
  4. ….but there must be more. 
  5. I wasn’t interested in reading the book in the first place
  6. ….but wanted to investigate the shortlist
  7. …Aurealis Prize Best Horror Novel  2017.
  8. The fact that I kept reading
  9. ….because of the quality of the writing is the hook.
  10. If you can keep ME interested in a horror book
  11. …then you must be doing something right
  12. ….#Bravo  J.M. Breuklaar



  1. J.S. Breukelaar is a master of foreshadowing.
  2. She made her plot clues subtle and for this reader
  3. ….apparent during a re-reading!
  4. The author wants to build suspense.
  5. I tried to read very carefully and the book is intricately plotted.
  6. I had to read 10 chapters…then re-read/skim them
  7. to pick up on what I had missed the first time around.
  8. Once I had a grasp of the basic conflicts
  9. ….reading was much smoother…and creepier!



  1. Breukelaar personifies the lake
  2. ..whenever she can giving it a  horror-touch:
  3. …the lake jumped at her between the houses.
  4. …a black tongue of the lake licked her heel.
  5. …the lake winked between the trees.
  6. crouched waiting for the unrisen sun.
  7. shrank from a rascally moon.
  8. …(weed) the lake sucked it in.



  1. Lee:  obsessed with the lake after his son was
  2. …killed and parts of body thrown in lake (horror)
  3. “Death is not the end, neither for the dead
  4. nor those they leave behind.” (ch14)
  5. Thettie: obsessed with guilt from the past
  6. “I got to make things right….” (ch 13)
  7. Bryce:  ….she is not what she seems!



  1. Breukelaar used a chewy setting
  2. …something she could set her teeth into!
  3. Breukelaar  uses personification 
  4. the lake jumped, winked,
  5. licked at her heels.
  6. She used all the features of the lake
  7. the lake oozed and spread, cold, dark and indestructible
  8. ….black tongue of lake water licked her heel
  9. to increase the creepy unsettling  feelings in the story.
  10. What is the hungry nameless thing in the lake?
  11. I was fascinated by a lake…..that came to life!


Tone:  creepy

  1. Breukelaar created a very wierd 
  2. …creepy world in the Pennsylvania back country.
  3. “The lake flushed purple, bruised by its own loveliness
  4. ….leaves dripped bloody from the trees.
  5. Lee looks through shards of glass…
  6. …like seeing the world through alien tears (ch 6)
  7. Breukelaar shows ….does not tell.
  8. She uses the sense of smell (80x) to prickle the reader’s imagination.
  9. …the metallic smell of the lake, smell of burnt wiring, burned waffels,
  10. her breath smells like cocoa and some kind of vegetable,
  11. the smell of iodine-soaked bandage.


Tension:  …every page tingles with tension!

  1. I was mesmerized by the character’s
  2. …thoughts of obsessions and death wishes.
  3. For example:
  4. This is Lee’s obsession….to probe the lake until he finds his son.
  5. Lee’s death wish “…the only way to beat the monster
  6. …is to join it.” (ch 16)
  7. Throughout the book I kept wondering
  8. …will good triumph over evil…or NOT!


Conclusion:     Mainstream fiction or horror fiction?

  1. I was surprised to find in J.S. Breukelaar’s  horror novel
  2. superior writing and great emotional depth (example ch 11).
  3. My preconceptions that horror is
  4. …less than mainstream fiction are gone forever!
  5. The horror writer wants us to expand our imagination with images.
  6. Best image… was the island in the middle of the lake.
  7. I had to admire how creative Breukelaar is!
  8. “Island was a bugger sneezed out in nostril shape
  9. …with nose-hair foliage.” (ch 2)

Last Thoughts:


  1. With all due respect to  people who know how to judge literature…
  2. I would like to see the jury report of
  3. …Aurealis Awards Best Horror Novel 2017.
  4. I read the winner Soon by Lois Murphy and Aletheia short listed.
  5. As a reader J.S. Breukelaar’s novel should have won!
  6. #MustRead….really a must! 


What is the most important difference between Soon and Aletheia ?

  1. While reading Aletheia
  2. I was constantly asking myself questions.
  3. …which plot twist do I think is coming next?
  4. While reading Soon
  5. ….my imagination was not aroused
  6. ….nothing in the book
  7. spurred me on to think with the author.
  8. This is what I mean when I say that  Soon did not engage me
  9. …but Aletheia did!
  10. Wonderful reading experience….that you should not miss!